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WDFW Enforcement is divided into two patrol sections, Marine and Land, although responsibilities often overlap and the two sections commonly assist each other. The following are real life events that provide a snapshot of fish and wildlife enforcement activity in Washington State. These examples show the diversity of issues that Fish and Wildlife Police Officers ("Game Wardens") encounter while protecting your natural resources, but are by no means all encompassing of our many accomplishments. All violations are considered alleged unless a conviction has been secured.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Abuse of YOUR Public Lands

The issues seem to be limitless: gang graffiti, garbage dumping, vandalism, drug dealing, marijuana plantations, thefts and off-road destruction... and that's just for starters.

But we're doing something about it.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission passed an improved set of land conduct rules four years ago to allow us to address problems more easily. Since then the WDFW Law Enforcement Bureau has begun collaborating with volunteers and other police agencies to target problem sites and implement a number of strategies.

For example, Officer Haw successfully investigated the dumping of hulk boats and trailers on WDFW Wildlife Area properties. A dumped vessel and trailer were traced to the original registered owners, and then to the owner of a storage facility that had gone out of business. The person had posted ads on Craig’s List for free boats and trailers on the condition that the hulks were removed from the DFW facilities. Of course Officer Haw answered the advertisement. After several denials, the suspect was confronted by a mountain of evidence, including a boat being advertised as “free” parked in his yard.

Contributing to the dumping problem are some camps used as long-term hovels. The occupants are now easily evicted, where before we didn’t have any options. We can’t even begin to quantify the number of wildfires that have been prevented by being able to enforce much clearer rules related to camping and keg parties.

On a more challenging front, we are attempting to address the gang presence and industrial marijuana growing on your lands, with the two issues often interrelated. The latest trend is the live-in grow site, complete with structures, human refuse and armed security guard. A specially trained team of Fish and Wildlife Police Officers that network with our law enforcement partners has been very effective in maintaining a safer recreational area for the public, and eradicating these grow sites to prevent further destruction of valuable habitat.

Clean-up efforts and emphasis patrols are beginning to send a clear message: The public's investment in state lands is not a wasted effort, and we will not tolerate the “anything goes” attitude when it comes to protecting the public's investment. But we can't do it alone.

We are very fortunate that most of Washington's citizens share our same passion for protecting our state's lands. We'd like to thank those who step forward to report offenders who abuse our public lands, and we'd especially like to recognize the folks who have volunteered to clean up the LT Murray Wildlife Area (an area hit particularly hard by garbage, vandalism, and grafitti). The Wenas Valley Muzzleloaders and Kittitas County Field and Stream Club have been instrumental in organizing annual spring clean-ups for several years, and we've even had some private citizens from the hunting community step up to coordinate separate clean-up events. As law enforcement, we will do our best to ensure your public lands remain clean and open for use, long after the clean up is over!

Thank You!! (images from previous clean up efforts)

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